After you have finished the last soothing sip of your tea, do you ever look at your still-aromatic tea bag and think it is such a waste to throw it in the trash, or even the compost pile? Even after they have been steeped, tea leaves have been prized since ancient times for their many secondary uses.
The following are just nine of the numerous things you can do with your tea leaves:
1. Make odor-absorbing satchels. Black tea especially has significant deodorizing properties. Place your tea leaves in fine mesh bags, or wrap them in cheesecloth, and place these satchels in your refrigerator, in closets, in the nursery or kids’ rooms, near pet areas, or anywhere that you want odors absorbed. A few tea leaves sprinkled in a litter box can significantly decrease the smelliness factor.
2. Remove food odors and fight bacteria on kitchenware. Have you been doing a lot of cooking with garlic, onions or similarly pungent foods that linger on your cutting board, utensils or pots long after they are washed?
Rubbing used black or green tea leaves directly on these surfaces can absorb the odors, and also helps to remove bacteria. If you have garlic odors (for one example) lingering on your hands, rubbing tea leaves directly on your skin before washing can get rid of these, as well.
3. Use as a glass cleaner. Wet tea leaves wrapped in cloth can do wonders for your mirrors, windows and glass surfaces. Simply wipe your glass with the tea-filled cloth, and wipe dry with a separate cloth.
4. Enjoy as homemade incense. Cha kouro is a type of Japanese incense burner specifically designed for tea leaves. You can use black, green or herbal teas and infuse your home with the sweet, relaxing smell of your favorite blend.
These are especially delightful in a meditation area or sitting room. Alternately, you can boil used tea leaves in a pot of water on the stove. Add a few citrus rinds and herb stems to amplify the aroma.
5. Elevate your bathing experience. For a luxurious hot bath, either add loose tea leaves, or gather them in a mesh satchel and add to your bathwater. This is both aromatic and soothing to your skin.
6. Soothe minor skin irritations. Apply cooled tea bags or loose tea leaves to minor burns, bug bites, bee stings and irritated skin. This technique also works well for sunburn.
7. Sleep soundly on a tea-filled pillow. Save and dry tea leaves in a large container until you have enough to fill a pillowcase, as tightly or loosely as you desire. According to traditional Chinese custom, sleeping on a pillow filled with tea can help you sleep more soundly, alleviate headaches and even lower blood pressure. You can also do this with throw-pillow coverings and arrange on your couch.
8. Make your own unique stationery. In a large pot or bowl, pour boiling water over used tea bags and allow to cool. Dip the edges of paper into the bowl to stain them a mild, sepia hue, and lay flat to dry. You can also drip the tea water onto the paper in whatever design you choose.
To avoid wrinkling, use heavier paper, or paper made for watercolor paints. If the type of paper you use does not wrinkle when wet, you can even dye the entire sheet if you wish. This method can also be used for dyeing yarn and other fabrics.
9. Keep your potted plants from dripping. Placing used tea bags at the bottom of pots and planters, before adding soil, can help absorb excess water, and also add nutrients to boost the soil quality.
With all of these recycled options, and many more unique ideas just a creative leap away, there is no reason to ever throw away another tea bag without getting at least one more use out of it.
Remember: Always buy organic tea or you risk that it has been sprayed with pesticides.
-The Atlternative Daily